Is Our God Big Enough? (Not for the Strong Minded)

Posted: Oct 10, 2008 in Co-Missional, God, Meaningless, Opinions, Rants, Tangents

WARNING! All tangents, rants and meaningless opinions (which this is) are barely edited and typically thrown out there without a concern for correct spelling, punctuation or grammar.

Perhaps you are concerned that I would even ask such a question. However, I felt compelled to ask this today because I am amazed how fearful of times we live in. We are quite frankly seemingly afraid of our own shadow. Then again, perhaps it is just me. Perhaps, I am the only one who wants God to make things simplistic for me. I try to define him, to control him, to excuse him, to defend him, to protect him, to make him sound big (as opposed to realizing he is big) and the list could go on. So I ask you, how big is your God?

Well, I must admit for sometime there is another closely connected idea that has been troubling me. It is the idea that people love God but hate religion OR that they love Christ but hate the church. Now, these words at first may bite us a bit, if not make us cringe but let’s really listen to what people are saying when they make such claims. As such, there must be a realization that, while we would rightly say that as the bible defines the church that one cannot possibly hate it and love Christ. Yet, this is not necessarily what I think people are saying. It is my own humble opinion that what they are really saying is that they love what Christ stands for but are extremely questionable about how distinctly different the church (Christ’s body) lives that out. Hence, you hear things like the church is full of a bunch of hypocrites. What I have found this to mean is, they say that we are to be Christlike and yet instead of being sent ones “like sheep among wolves,” they have built bigger and more expensive sheep pens to keep the wolves out.

Now I know this may sting a bit (it did me when I first dealt with this issue) and it may tempt you to think that we need to defend God, Christ and his church OR perhaps it just tempts you to defend yourself. In any case, while this is the temptation we must really return to the original question and ask why do we defend ourselves let alone God, Christ and the church. If we really believe in the Christ who came, died, was buried and then resurrected, how can we who merely know how to sleep defend the Christ, who under no uncertain terms needed us to accomplish his will in spite of our murderous tendencies.

Next, I wonder if what we are most afraid of is not that they are making claims about God or Christ but that the claims they make about what the religious programs have become or represent is nothing compared to the life that we are called to. Now, why is this challenging. Let me give you an example. In conversations that I (missionary/church starter) have with those who are in established churches the conversations about church planting (I don’t like that term but it is appropriate here) go something like this.

Well, what will it look like. Will it be like our church? Will they sing our songs? Will they pray like we pray? Who will preach, teach and lead this new church that doesn’t know anything about how to do church? Will they be acappella or instrumental? Will they let women speak or will they remain silent? Will they raise their hands or dance or stand reverent before the Lord? Ultimately, what will it look like when I visit that church?

I want to suggest that the questions above, while important with the right heart are wrong headed when we are talking about the point of church planting. The point of church planting is to reach those who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior. The point is to share the Good News that the kingdom of God has come near. To begin church, is to begin to walk as Christ walked, to no longer stand in fear of what others may say, do to us, command of us or wish we would do to conform to their standards.

This leads me to my biggest fear for the body of believers that I serve. When will we begin to settle our standards and forget what brought us out of darkness and out of light? When will we define our system of doing church on Sunday and forget about how none of us came to church through the doors of a building but instead the church was brought to us and shared with us on our turf, in our home and in the midst of my sinful and fleshly life. You see, today, VineLife is approximately 75-80% (if not more) full of people who last year did not attend church and were far from embracing any God that demanded conformity or putting away of their lifestyles. They were people who did not understand that the destructive lifestyles they were living were really hopeless and relentlously tearing their families, friendships and careers apart. Today, however, they know Christ and many have renewed or for the first time embraced Christ as their Lord and Savior. They have found the hope of eternal life in the kingdom of God and are daily exchanging the old way of life for the new. But how did this happen?

I humbly would say, that I have been blessed to witness God use the smallest, weakest and most fearful people of all to do the most amazing things. The Gospel is proclaimed today at bars, community parties, poker gatherings, community events and in the streets along the 380 corridor and beyond by those who have said, God you are bigger than I can ever imagine. I don’t know how you can use me but I will let you. They looked beyond their fears into the glorious life saving arms of Christ who overcame death and gave them life. Not only have I seen this but I am one of those small, weak and fearful ones who was hired to plant a church along the 380 corridor in North Texas. I got here with my Masters of Divinity in hand. I knew how to do church. I was a precise planner, could easily preach to the masses and GET them to come to church. I WAS WRONG! You see it is to God that we give all glory, honor and power. Not the works of humans, not the traditions of any heritage, not even the Bible, no we give all glory, honor and power to God alone. This is hard for many to swallow and for that I am sorry. I only have the witness of Christ growing this little family just north of Dallas to base that upon but when you see drunkards turning down a drink, when you see depression and drug addiction overcome, when you see a woman abused and the man she lives with get married before God, when you see mean and tough men hug one another on the community softball field, when you hear the witness of someone who has just become apart of God’s family proclaim the Good News to their hopeless friends, when you see these things then…

…then you know it is not how we do church or religion. This produces fear when we think what we have right is threatened. Instead,it is how we live church everyday. What I realize about myself and must confess, is that I thought I knew how to do church? I thought church was something that I could get right. How arrogant am I? To think that when or wherever I may gather to worship God that somehow I have perfected or come as close to it on the basis of what I think is best. May God deliver his church into an exile outside of our buildings and into the wilderness of the world, where the wolves and the lions are showing themselves powerless before the Lord God Almighty. So how big is your God? May we all let go, let God!

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